Men’s Health Month: Getting Back to the Basics

You know the type. The macho guy who’s rough, tough, go-it-alone, leader-of-the-pack, help-not-wanted. Macho man may put off seeing a doctor for a checkup – because he thinks he’s invincible, doesn’t get sick, it’s a waste of time, only for the weak.

Physicians at the University of Maryland Medical Center say some men only give in when they have symptoms, when major treatments are required, or when preventive steps are more demanding. Even so, it’s never too late to start on the road to health.

June, Men’s Health Month, is a great time to focus on preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men of all ages.

So, you’re out of shape?

Heart disease kills 1 in every 4 men in the US. One clue to heart health is endurance. Can you walk up two flights of stairs or four city blocks without stopping (barring traffic lights, etc.), or has there been a change in your activity level over the past 6-12 months? A man may shrug off the changes and blame them on being “out of shape,” but these changes could signal changes in heart health, says Michael Miller, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine, epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director, Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Dr. Miller: “If the answer to both questions is ‘no’ (presuming they have no other limitations such as joint disability, emphysema, etc.), then their heart is considered to be in reasonably good shape and no further workup is usually necessary.  If the answer to either question is ‘yes,’ then further questioning and/or workup is indicated.”

The paunch and the pound

Dr. Miller: “I ask men what their weight and waist size was when they considered themselves to be in good physical health (often in their early-to-mid-20s). If either their current weight or waist size exceeds 10 pounds or 2 inches, the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease begins to increase.  After checking for the major cardiovascular risk factors (cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes), we make recommendations aimed at improving their cardiovascular health.”

Recommendations: Eat a big breakfast or lunch with a light dinner, have a snack between meals, take a walk after dinner, and relax 30-60 minutes before bedtime to increase the odds of getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.

All or nothing

Diabetes in men jumped 177 percent in the US from 1980-2014, fueled in part by weight gain and obesity. Shedding the pounds is often a struggle, but If your ideal, normal body weight is 180 pounds, and you’re 300, it may be unrealistic to set a goal of getting back to 180, says diabetes expert Kashif M. Munir, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Dr. Munir: “Of course, getting back to 180 is worth striving for, but to make differences that affect your risk for diabetes and heart disease, we’ve shown in studies that if you lose just five or 10 percent of your body weight, you can reduce those risks in a big way and improve your overall health, often within weeks.”

Exercise snacks. Diet is the main mechanism for losing weight, but the other side of the equation is exercise and doing more.

Dr. Munir: “What I tell people is to take exercise snacks. Instead of snacking on peanuts or cookies or whatever, do a 5-10 minute moderate-to-high-intensity workout. And if you can do that several times per day, all the better. Most people can spare 5-10 minutes here and there, so I tell people in the morning before you go to work, do a quick 5-minute jog, or something like that. At work, if you have a lunch break, go out for a walk, or get in some activity, and in the evening try to do the same thing.”

Lung Cancer: Put out the fire before it starts

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Maryland men, yet men tend to wait longer to seek medical treatment for the condition than women, says Gavin L. Henry, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and thoracic surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Dr. Henry: “Many men who are referred to us have symptoms, but the referral is often a good sign because it likely means the cancer is in an early stage when there’s time to take action. As surgeons, we always say ‘the chance to cut is the chance to cure.’”

Annual lung cancer screening. Low-dose screening CT scans have become the standard for detecting early lung cancer.

Dr. Henry: “We recommend that men get a primary care physician, get regular checkups and screening, especially for men ages 55-70 with a significant history of smoking, (greater than 30 packs of cigarettes a year), and those with a family history of lung cancer.

Quit smoking. 80-90 percent of patients with lung cancer have a history of smoking.

Henry: “If a man is a smoker, the best thing he can do for himself is to quit. Many of my patients know smoking is bad for them. But it’s tough, it’s a habit. We recognize it’s a struggle, and we try to help with a variety of smoking cessation tools and techniques.

A man’s a man, and all that

Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in Maryland men after lung cancer, is one of three major issues in urology for men, including sexual dysfunction and prostate enlargement, also known as BPH. “These three areas can disrupt men’s lives significantly; the incidence really starts to go up when men are in their 50s-60s-70s,” says Michael J. Naslund, MD, professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Urology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the Maryland Prostate Center.

Prostate cancer:  Cancerous cells develop in the prostate, one of the male sex glands. There’s not good data on preventing prostate cancer, and since there are no specific signs or symptoms, screening is the best way to detect it early. If it’s found, there are many treatment options, depending on health, age, expected life span, personal preferences, state and grade of cancer and the anticipated effects of treatment.

Dr. Naslund:  “When a man gets to age 50, he should be getting prostate cancer screening that includes a rectal exam and PSA blood test once a year, along with a blood and urine check. If there’s anything abnormal, then he’ll need further testing.”

Sexual dysfunction: It usually takes the form of erectile dysfunction, the inability to sustain or maintain an erection.

Dr. Naslund: “There are many things a man can do to prevent sexual dysfunction: maintaining good physical shape, not gaining a lot of weight will lower the risk of getting sexual dysfunction later in life. Not smoking is key: that helps prevents all kinds of vascular disease including erectile dysfunction. Eating smart, exercise, don’t smoke are the things men can do. Those three benefit men in a lot of other ways as well. As for treatment, pills are the first option and probably solve the problem three times out of four.”

Prostate enlargement (BPH): Partially block the bladder, resulting in a weak stream of urine and frequent urination

Dr. Naslund:  “Virtually all men get prostate enlargement, when compared to young men in their 20s. I would estimate that half of men don’t have any effects from it. They urinate normally and it never becomes an issue. Men often ignore symptoms and may not realize that treatment, if required, is less invasive with fewer side effects than it used to be.”

 

American Heart Health Month

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(L-R) Dr. Winakur, Ms. Robinson-Dawkins, Dr. Wen, Fellow Joyce Roller, Go Red for Women spokeperson, Ali Blais, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Dr. Baker-Smith and Dr. Fisher.

By: Allie Ondrejcak, Communications Intern

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a Press Conference recognizing American Heart Month. The event featured: Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner at the Baltimore City Health Department; Dr. Shannon Winakur, Medical Director at the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Agnes Hospital; Ali Blais, Director of Development for Go Red for Women; Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, a heart disease survivor; and University of Maryland Medical Center’s Dr. Stacy Fisher. UMMC Cardiologist Dr. Carissa Baker-Smith was in attendance as well.

Dr. Fisher specializes in complex heart disease with special interests in adult congenital heart disease, heart disease during pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension. She spoke about several important issues at the conference:

  • The differences in heart disease between men and women
    • Heart risks and heart disease during pregnancy—because women are having children at older ages, and with complex heath conditions like diabetes and obesity, they are at a higher risk of developing heart disease
    • If you have a known condition, talk to your health provider before planning a pregnancy and to continue to discuss any symptoms you experience throughout
  • The importance of knowing your family history and heart-related sudden death.
    • it is important to be screened, and to have your children screened, for heart conditions
    • Being screened and knowing your history can help to prevent heart-related sudden death

In the United States, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. But the good news is 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented! The American Heart Association gives us 7 easy ways to lower your risk and improve your heath:

  1. Get Active
  2. Control Your Cholesterol
  3. Eat Better
  4. Manage Your Blood Pressure
  5. Lose Weight
  6. Reduce Your Blood Sugar
  7. Quit Smoking

Visit the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center
for more information about our services and resources.

Also, check out UMMC’s “Never Skip a Beat” Heart Health Awareness Campaign for health tips, insights and information.

(L-R) Dr. Baker-Smith, Fellow Joyce Roller, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Winakur

 

Making Heart Health a Year-Round Priority

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern

Heart Cardiogram 150858290

February and American Heart Month are ending, but just because March is around the corner doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about keeping your heart in tip-top shape.

The American Heart Association (AHA), whose mission is to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and the UM Heart Center offer a series of lifestyle recommendations for optimizing your heart health all year round.

Move More

Working out regularly is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week (if you can’t do 30 minutes at a time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day).

Also try working in exercise to your normal routine:

  • Instead of driving to the store, walk or bike.
  • Park in a spot farther from your destination.
  • Keep dumbbells near the remote so you can stay active while watching TV.

Skip the Snacks

What you eat is just as important as what you do. Swapping out foods heavy with added sodium and fat for nutrient-rich foods can help you manage your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Here is a list of foods to fix and foods to nix.

Fix more foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, including:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Protein sources – poultry, fish and nuts

Nix processed foods and those that tend to be high in sodium and fat, including:

  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Red meat
  • Deep fried foods or foods cooked in butter

Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco and other ingredients common in cigarettes frequently contribute to heart disease. Even secondhand smoke kills nearly 70,000 people each year.

The good news is that when you quit smoking you see short term benefits right away, and it only takes about 5 to 15 years to reduce stroke risk to that similar of a nonsmoker. There is still time to reverse the damage caused by tobacco and ensure that your heart keeps pumping for many years to come.

Click here for a list of Smoking Cessation Classes in your area.

 

Doctor Holding Heart 166695035

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths each year, making these types of incremental changes vital to reducing your risk of heart related illness and keeping your heart well for all of life’s challenges, in February or any other month.

A Little Hero Recovers from Heart Surgery to Run Like Superman


Editor’s note:
For 2-year-old Thaddeous McKenzie, the Baltimore Running Festival was just a fun day when he got to run fast with a bunch of other kids. For his mother, Jennifer McAnany, and others who formed “Team Thaddeous,” it meant a lot more.  

By Jennifer McAnany

(as told to Amy Katz)

I felt my son grip my hand tightly as he wiggled in anticipation of the race. He was restless, but only because he was excited to run in the Kids Fun Run at the Baltimore Running Festival. I looked down at him, beaming with pride. I could think only about how truly blessed I am to have a healthy child who is living life to the fullest and being a normal 2-year-old.

When I was pregnant with my son Thaddeous, I wanted the best care possible for my baby. Because of complications, I was already considered a high-risk pregnancy, so I went to see Dr. Geoffrey Rosenthal at University of Maryland Medical Center. At 20 weeks, doctors found a heart defect and diagnosed Thaddeous with Tetralogy of Fallot. In this heart defect, it is difficult for the heart to pump oxygen properly, causing the child’s lips, tongue, and fingers to turn blue from lack of oxygen. The most common treatment for TOF is usually open heart surgery, and this surgery usually must occur within the first few months of life. It was scary for me because we wouldn’t even know how bad the defect was until he was born.

The day Thaddeous was born was very nerve-racking for me. He was born at UMMC – where they were prepared to perform open heart surgery on him immediately, if he needed it. As soon as he was born, the nurses came and assessed him. I was thrilled when I learned little Thaddeous was well enough to be able to go home from the hospital with me when I was released two days later. He was monitored every couple weeks and seemed to be doing okay.

About 11 weeks later, when we went in for a genetics appointment with Dr. Julie Kaplan at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center (part of the UM Medical System), she noticed that Thaddeous was looking a little blue, demonstrating one of his heart-defect symptoms. They had to immediately transport us from Upper Chesapeake hospital to the UM Medical Center in downtown Baltimore. It was a horrible weekend because his oxygen levels would drop every so often and he wasn’t scheduled to have open heart surgery until Monday morning. This is when we started calling him our little Superman because he pulled through his surgery and came out of it as our little hero.

Thaddeous McKenzie recovers after surgery. He's now a healthy 2-year-old.

Thaddeous McKenzie recovering after heart surgery at University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. 

 

The full-heart repair was a success and Thaddeous recovered fairly quickly. He was doing great. So when I heard about the Children’s Heart Program Running Team in the Baltimore Running Festival on Oct. 12, not only did I sign up to run – I signed up our little Superman. He even had his own bib number. And then several family members and friends signed up. As “Team Thaddeous,” we raised money for the program to be able to help other young patients and families.

Ready, Set, GO! The buzzer went off to signal the start.

Thaddeous ran as fast as he could, trying his hardest to keep up with the other kids and pulling me along with him. He was having a blast in his Superman shirt with his cape blowing in the wind, and I felt so glad he is still on the mend.

He will still have to have yearly check-ups for the rest of his life, but he is living life like a normal 2-year-old. He has his hiccups at times but what 2-year-old doesn’t? He walks, he plays, he kicks the ball and does everything he wants to do. The sky is the limit for him now.

As we crossed the finish line, still hand-in-hand, I once again realized how thankful I was.  He wouldn’t be able to be here running this race beside me for the Children’s Heart Program if it wasn’t for all of his doctors, nurses, and everyone who helped him get where he is today. I did the race for Thaddeous and to give back to the program that had helped us. It was like everything came full circle, and I can’t thank everyone at the University of Maryland Medical System enough.

Go to the Team Thaddeous page to see more photos of Thaddeous or to make a donation to sponsor his team’s fundraising effort.

Team Thaddeous

Team Thaddeous after running to raise money for the Children’s Heart Program and, below, with Dr. Rosenthal (third from left).

 

Group picture with Dr. Rosenthal

 

Recovering Cancer Patient Takes Control of Health and Weight

Verna Prehn, before and after

My Story of Getting Healthy

By Verna Prehn

Three years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, I was a very large woman (weighing more than 300 lbs) with a very high “at-rest” heart rate and (we would find out later) severely malnourished.

I went through tough but successful treatment, including two surgeries, chemotherapy, artificial feedings with a nasogastric tube, and blood transfusions, under the care of Dr. Sarah Temkin at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Chemo had many side effects, including bone pain, hair loss and weight loss (97 pounds), but it has successfully freed me from cancer for now, and Dr. Temkin keeps a close watch on my health, vigilant for a recurrence that would require additional treatment. Dr. Temkin told me that keeping the weight off that I had lost with chemotherapy treatments would be healthy for me and increase my survivorship.

After treatment was complete, I began to put on weight, but Dr. Temkin said not to worry too much because everyone puts on a bit of weight after they have completed treatment. But my little bit of weight became a lot more weight until I had put on all 97 pounds I had lost.

I went to Dr. Tais Baig in UM Family Medicine as my primary care physician to have her regulate medication for my high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. She ran tests and found that my blood glucose was high enough to suspect diabetes. Dr. Baig talked with me for a while, getting to know me and asked how she could best help me with my health.

I told her that I wanted to get the weight off because I wanted to increase my survivorship and I knew that being so heavy is a threat to my health. I told her that I didn’t know how to do it. I don’t know what good nutrition is, what’s good or bad to eat, and how to come up with a plan to lose weight. She told me about the University of Maryland Medical Weight Management Program through the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Baig helped me through getting an appointment to begin.

I met Dr. Verlyn Warrington at my first appointment. She explained the program, gave me lots of information and set me up for the group meetings with a licensed clinical social worker and behavior therapist. I was taking medication for high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, thyroid medication for an under active thyroid, an inhaler for asthma, and Dr. Warrington wanted to put me on medication for diabetes.

My first meeting with the support and accountability group was overwhelming. We talked about protein, protein, protein. We talked about portion size. We talked about eating several times a day and not skipping meals. Harriet told us that if we followed the plan we would lose 10 percent of our body weight in three months. It took me about a week-and-a-half before I gave the plan a try because I was afraid and overwhelmed. In three months, I did indeed lose 10 percent of my body weight. In fact, I lost 35 pounds that first three months.

Additionally, Dr. Warrington explained that I needed to increase my activity level. I had some restrictions on what I could do because of my knees and asthma. I began walking. I started walking around the perimeter of my neighborhood, which measures out to just over a mile. At first, I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time and I had to stop frequently to rest and catch my breath. As I have lost more weight and have increased my cardiovascular endurance, I have started exercising to on-line walking videos

I have learned so much from Harriet, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Vivienne Rose and the people in our support and accountability group. I know how to think and make good choices about eating. HALT is a good motto to follow because my emotions drive my eating habits. So I think: HALT – am I HUNGRY? Or am I ANGRY? or am I LONELY? or am I TIRED? Actually, I add an “S” to it (HALTS) – am I STRESSED?

I read the labels on food and check them for calories, fat and sugar content. I measure my food so that I keep healthy portion sizes. (Portion size was a huge surprise to me. I had an unrealistic concept of what an individual serving was and what was actually food for two or three people.)

I keep track of my food in a food journal through MyFitnessPal.com. It also keeps track of my exercise and activity level. Dr. Warrington told me about this tool to use because I had gone about two months and had only lost one pound. Dr. Warrington and the food journal help me to realize that I was eating too few calories – I wasn’t eating enough food.

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

 

It has been 14 months since Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet helped me make a lifestyle change that is healthier for me and increases my rate of survivorship. At my last appointment and weigh-in, I had lost 100 pounds. It took 13 months. I am no longer on medication for my heart or blood pressure or thyroid. My blood glucose is no longer in the diabetic or pre-diabetic range. I have walked two 8k walks. I walk to videos or outdoors five times a week. I do strength training exercises with weights and bands. I am starting a faith and fitness class with a trainer and will begin a gym membership soon. I can walk my entire neighborhood in 20 minutes without stopping and while carrying on a conversation at the same time.

I still have a considerable amount of weight to lose to get to a healthy weight that I am comfortable with. I feel so much better already. I take the steps instead of the elevator and it doesn’t hurt my knees! I know so much more about what is a healthy food choice and portion size. The University of Maryland Medical Weight Management program, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet have helped me claim a new healthier way of living.

Verna Prehn

Elkridge, Md.

Nurses Run for their ‘Heart Kids’

By Jen Arrington, MS, RN, CPN, and Kristen Fantel, BSN, RN, CEN

On Oct. 12, 17 nurses and friends of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) will be running in the Baltimore Running Festival to raise money for the UMMC Children’s Heart Program. When people ask us why we run, there’s one easy answer. We run for patients like Brandon Kerrigan and all of the heart kids that we care for everyday.

When Brandon celebrated his 15th birthday on Aug. 16, no one had any idea that two days later he would be fighting for his life. Brandon was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, and went into cardiac arrest while being flown from Easton to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Once Brandon was stabilized, his family was told that he would need a heart transplant. Since his arrival to the PICU, Brandon has been determined to get strong while he waits for his heart. He charms the nurses and staff with his bright smile and Nerf guns, just trying to be a normal 15-year-old, while cooped up in the hospital. You can see how charming he is in this picture of us with him at the bottom of our team page.

Brandon is only one example of a patient we are running for. We care for many cardiac patients in collaboration with the Children’s Heart Program. This program provides comprehensive cardiac care for children with a wide range of conditions — from rhythm abnormalities to childhood hypertension, from heart murmurs to serious birth defects requiring complicated heart surgery. While we care for these complex patients, they quickly become a part of our unit – we offer an encouraging smile to their parents in the hallway, we say our silent prayers. And on good days – we dodge Nerf guns as we enter the patient’s room.

The strength and resilience of these children, who battle against all odds, is simply inspiring. As nurses, we are often left with the feeling of wanting to do more. We carefully assess these patients for any changes in condition, we give medications, we advocate for their every need, and we attempt to play and create normalcy whenever we can. But we want to do more.

This is why we decided to run as part of the Children’s Heart Team. We don’t have a miracle drug and we can’t take away the heartache in the eyes of the parents of these patients. But we can run.

As with all of the patients we care for, the teamwork involved in the care of these patients is also inspiring. The team includes Nurses, Doctors, Child Life Specialists, Respiratory Therapists, OR and Cath Lab Staff, Rehabilitation Services – and many, many other people who deserve to be celebrated.

This strong team work was the inspiration for our fundraising efforts. We created a T-shirt that recognizes this team effort, and we are selling the T-shirt around the hospital in order to raise money for the Children’s Heart Program.

In addition to the shirt, we are also hosting a fundraiser at a local restaurant. Join us on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Blue Hill Tavern in Canton. The restaurant will be donating 20% of its proceeds from the day to our cause. Schedule a lunch with your co-workers, dinner with your family, or join the PICU nurses for Happy Hour – and help an important cause.

Want to join us in our effort to do more? Contact us! Maybe today we can give back a little bit of the inspiration that we have received from these amazing children.

To make a donation: http://www.ummsfoundation.org/picuheart

Man Celebrates Six-Year Anniversary of Heart Transplant during April’s Donate Life Month

Bidwell photo3

When I first found out that I needed a heart transplant, I didn’t believe it. I was in denial since I was in such good shape all of my life. I hardly even got a cold. I couldn’t believe that my heart was giving out.

Ten years ago after years of being an avid runner, I was growing more and more tired. I went to my general doctor who did an EKG, and he found something abnormal. It was determined that the right electrical node in my heart was not firing correctly, so I had a pacemaker put in. I continued running for the next two years. Then the same problem occurred on the left side of my heart and another pacemaker was put in.

After four years and two pacemakers, my heart started to completely deteriorate. I had an interview with Dr. Erika Feller who determined that I was a transplant candidate. I was added to the transplant waiting list and admitted to UMMC. Throughout the week they had to run tests on me. While at the hospital, I went into cardiac arrest, and I was upgraded to a pump. A couple days later a match was found. I felt great and relieved; it was only five days between the cardiac arrest and the time I got my new heart.

I didn’t wake up initially after the transplant. The toxins in my blood were at such a high level that they brought me into exploratory surgery where they discovered that I also needed my gall bladder removed.

Recovery was pretty good for me. The doctors and staff at UMMC were great. They took good care of me and got me up and walking soon after the surgeries. Two weeks after the transplant I returned home and continued walking around my community. In less than three months after my transplant, I was able to return to work.

It has been six years since my transplant, and I’m able to run again. Every weekend I go walking with the guys in the neighborhood, about 4 to 5 miles. I am also very passionate about sailing. I sail a fair amount and send Dr. Feller a picture of me on my boat every April, which is the anniversary of my transplant.

I would highly recommend that people indicate they want to be organ donors on their driver’s license. Organs are greatly needed, and you may save someone’s life. You never know when tragedy may strike or when your health may deteriorate. But even with a sad tragedy, some good can come out of it. If it had not been for the generosity and foresight of my donor, I probably would not be here.

Keep the Beat: UMMC Hosts Dance Party for Baltimore City Senior Citizens

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager for University of Maryland Medical System

More than 300 Baltimore seniors got their feet moving and their heart rates up at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s third annual “Dance for the Heart” event at the Virginia S. Baker Recreation Center in PattersonPark.

The participants came from senior centers throughout the city to take part in dance demonstrations, line-dancing and blood pressure screenings. It was a fun way to get their heart rates up, keep their feet moving and dance their way to better health. Many of them arrived already enjoying dance. Some dancers really had some signature moves, and others just enjoyed swaying. At least one dancer used his cane to safely join the fun.

Dance for the Heart video

The Medical Center, which provided “Dance for Your Heart” shirts for everyone, partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks for the event.

University of Maryland family medicine specialist Georgia Bromfield, MD, also talked to the folks about the “ABCs” of heart disease, and they had lots of questions for her.

“Dance for Your Heart” is part of the Medical Center’s community outreach efforts. The annual dance is one of a series of heart-health events the Medical Center is hosting during February, which is American Heart Month.  Be sure to visit the Medical Center at the B-More Healthy Expo, February 23-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

To learn more about other upcoming activities, visit our community outreach page: www.umm.edu/events

 

 

 

Super Staff Beats Super Storm — Every Time

The forecasts and predictions around Hurricane Sandy had much of the eastern third of the country braced for disaster. Baltimore saw heavy rains, wind and flooding. But the University of Maryland Medical Center didn’t skip a beat, thanks to the dedication of staff members who planned ahead or braved the elements to get to work. Their inspiration: hundreds of patients and colleagues were depending on them.

 We heard about staff taking extraordinary steps to be available for patients and to one another. If you have a story of your own, or you know of something that somebody else has done, drop us a line at communications@umm.edu.

 In the meantime, here are a few:

 From Karen E. Doyle, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, vice president for nursing and operations at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and for emergency nursing at UMMC:

“While I was making rounds yesterday [Oct. 29], I stopped and spoke to Darlene Currin, a housekeeping staff member in Shock Trauma working on 6 North.  I thanked her for being here, and told her that her work was really important.  She told me that she had just arrived (it was around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.).  Darlene had walked all the way from East Baltimore to UMMC.  But, she knew she was needed and made the trek anyway.  Really unbelievable.  I was so inspired.”

 Currin (pictured above) said she doesn’t think she did anything that most of her colleagues wouldn’t do. “We all work here, we know it’s 24/7,” she said. On Monday morning, she was unable to get a taxi or sedan service (public transportation was shut down), so she decided to walk. It took her about 90 minutes.

 “I was soaked when I got here,” Currin said.

 From Monika Bauman, MS, RN, CEN, nurse manager for women’s and children’s ambulatory services:

“The hospital-based clinics officially closed on Tuesday due to the storm, but Ometriss Jeter, a scheduling and preauthorization coordinator who works in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, reported for duty Tuesday morning at about 6 a.m.  She rounded in all of the outpatient registration areas offering her services and making sure they had adequate staffing for the day. Once she determined all was well, she reported to our clinic, even though it was closed, to be sure we were ready for operations as usual for tomorrow [Wednesday].”

 From Karen Cossentino, MS, RN, CCRN, senior clinical nurse II and charge nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit:

“I was in charge in the Cardiac Care Unit on Monday, Oct. 29, and it was an exceptionally busy day. So I would like to thank all the staff for working together. Two nurses deserve an extra thank you, but they asked that I not use their names. One of them had a vacation scheduled this week but offered to work for a nurse who is a new mother who would not have been able to get home after work on Monday to her 3-month-old baby.  Another nurse from Professional Development came to the unit and asked if we needed any help. I immediately took her up on her offer and she stayed most of the day and went from room to room and nurse to nurse and offered her assistance.”

From Rehana Qayyumi, MLS (ASCP), medical lab scientist, Microbiology Laboratory:

After making up my mind to stay [at work during the storm] on a very busy Monday, I did not have time to think about where I would stay after my shift. Then, our wonderful Microbiology Technical Specialist Donna Cashara, MLS(ASCP), asked me what I was  going to do.  I just told her, ‘Yes, I’m staying somewhere,’ while very busy with my assigned work.  Anyway, she personally walked two blocks away to the Marriott [as phone calls were not helpful] and reserved a room.  She was like an angel for me when I finally reached the room around 7 p.m. and took a shower and my medicines and bowed my head down for my unexpected landing in full luxury. Did I deserve it? Yes, I think all of us who decided to pay for comfortable accommodations to be ready for the next busy day deserved it.  We deserve all the best to provide the best services. TeamWORK works!”

Rehana Qayyumi and Donna Cashara

Rehana Qayyumi and Donna Cashara

Cashara said it was tough to get a room at an affordable rate that night at the downtown hotels, but the Marriott finally came through. She said many other seasoned lab staff know when storms are coming, they need to look out for each other. She and another staff person led a department-wide effort to make sure the hospital had enough lab staff and that those employees had either safe passage home or a place to sleep. The hospital provides dorm-like accommodations, but some staff prefer to split the cost of a nearby hotel room.

From Cassandra Bembry, MLS ASCP, outreach customer service supervisor for the Clinical Pathology Laboratory:

Jamillah Johnson, my front-end coordinator of the Clinical Pathology Laboratory (a.k.a. “Accessioning”) volunteered late Sunday night to pick up more than 80 percent of our day-shift staff for Monday who rely solely on public transportation.  She also took these employees home and picked up our evening shift crew.  Jamillah has consistently shown a great deal of care and concern for our staff that is unparalleled, in my opinion, and acts of this nature are routine for her.” 

 From J.V. Nable, MD, NREMT-P, clinical instructor and chief resident in the Department of  Emergency Medicine:

“The [physicians in the] UniversityofMaryland Emergency Medicine Residency met the challenges posed by Hurricane Sandy head-on. Despite the incredibly inclement weather, residents continued to provide vital services at emergency departments and other hospital units throughout the region, including: UMMC, the Shock Trauma Center, the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, Bayview Medical Center, and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Because some residents have lengthy commutes, those who live near the medical facilities invited them to their homes for dry and safe shelter during the storm. Many residents volunteered to rearrange their schedules, taking extra shifts to cover for those stranded by the storm. As part of the backbone of clinical services at UMMC, emergency medicine residents demonstrated unwavering dedication throughout this unprecedented event.”

From Shawn Hendricks, MSN, RN, nurse manager for 10 East (Acute Medicine Telemetry Unit) and 11 East (Medicine Telemetry Unit):
 
During Hurricane Sandy, the dedicated staff on 10 & 11 East showed up ready to work, with smiles and a determination to provide excellent care despite the weather outside. I gave personal thanks to patient care technicians Theresa Hicks and Danielle Brown for coming to assist with the patients on 11 East after completing their care on 10 East, until help arrived from Monique Thomas, a student nurse who had been off duty but came in to help. And, also, to Jocelyn Campbell, one of our unit secretaries, who came in even when she wasn’t scheduled, to help with secretarial duties and other tasks on 11 East. Finally, a big “Thank you” to all my staff who stayed late or came early to ensure the shifts were covered! These staff members showed loyalty, teamwork, and caring when it was needed the most!

Mandatory Pulse Oximetry Screening for Newborns Takes Effect in Maryland

By Carissa M. Baker-Smith, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program

A quick, painless and non-invasive test to determine the amount of oxygen in a newborn baby’s blood is a first step in screening infants for congenital heart defects. Beginning September 1, 2012, hospitals in Maryland must administer the test to all newborns.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) occurs in approximately 8 of every 1,000 children.  Infants born with congenital heart disease have structural defects of the heart. Approximately 25% of all CHD cases are critical and require intervention during the infant’s first month of life. Interventions can include the administration of special medications or even surgery. Pulse oximetry may be helpful in improving the detection of critical CHD (CCHD).

On September 1, 2012, hospitals across Maryland begin mandatory pulse oximetry screening for all newborns. The screening must be done by a health professional before the infant is discharged and within 24 to 48 hours after birth. All hospitals in Maryland will be responsible for creating and implementing pulse oximetry screening protocols.

Children who “fail” pulse oximetry screening will undergo further evaluation, and their primary care providers will work closely with pediatric cardiologists to make the correct diagnosis. Failing the pulse oximetry test means oxygen saturation is lower than normal without another explanation, such as infection or lung disease.

What is pulse oximetry?

Pulse oximetry relies on the use of a non-invasive, painless method for detecting the amount of oxygen in the blood.  Probes are applied to the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot. The protocol selected by the State of Maryland for screening  is published in the Journal of Pediatrics (Pediatrics 2011; 128; e1259). Children with oxygen saturation less than 90% automatically test positive and fail screening.  Children with oxygen saturation greater than 95% test negative and pass screening. Children with oxygen saturation between 90% and 95% will undergo repeat testing and evaluation.

What is the potential impact of pulse oximetry screening?

We anticipate that pulse oximetry screening will enhance detection of CCHD. Data indicate that for every 1,000 children born in Maryland, 2.3 have CCHD.  Currently, between 60% and 70% of these infants are diagnosed through prenatal screening, leaving approximately 30% who are not yet diagnosed by the time they are born. Combined with physical examination, pulse oximetry is reported to improve sensitivity for detecting CHD by 20%.

What is the role of the Children’s Heart Program?

The University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program offers a comprehensive panel of services designed to accurately diagnose and effectively manage and treat children with CHD and CCHD.  Pediatric cardiologists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist with the diagnosis of CHD.  Through consultation and telemedicine services, the Children’s Heart Program is ready to assist surrounding providers and families with the evaluation of infants with suspected CCHD.

For more information on pulse oximetry, please contact the Children’s Heart Program at 410-328-4FIT (4348).

Dr. Baker-Smith is a member of the Maryland State Advisory Council’s Committee for CCHD and the Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease multi-institutional group.